*update 2015: Such a shame, BP Studio went out of business. I guess making good quality stuff these days doesn’t pay off.
I don’t know if it is because I’m getting old, or because of my job I’m becoming better attuned to good quality clothing, but I find that most of the stuff in stores these days looks like halloween costumes, or costs too much for what it is. In particular I’ve been looking to renew my sweater collection, but have been unsatisfied with the quality at mass-production stores. Around Florence there are a few knitwear outlets like BP Studio and Maglieria di Daisy that have solved my problem.
This year styles have changed dramatically and my stuff from a few years ago makes me look incredibly dated, so hitting the stores was a necessity. This is because in the Italian working world, other than in the more stuffy professions, you can pretty much go to work wearing anything as long as it is very much in style. And as I am in the creative industry and many of my clients are in the fashion industry, all the more reason why I have to show up looking like I have somewhat absorbed the message that I am communicating for them.
Many of you know me as a travel blogger, but I also write blogs and social media content in my job at the communications company Flod. One of our clients is BP Studio, which has been making really nice womens’ knitwear – a bit on the conservative side – since 1959. I already knew the brand because their headquarters and outlet is right next to IKEA, so for years we’ve stopped in after that devastatingly tiring shopping experience. It’s not the kind of outlet where you buy everything in sight, for their prices are not exactly low. But over the years I’ve bought a few pieces and they have always stood the test of time (and of the washing machine).
Now that I know more about BP Studio, I realize that their outlet is an honest deal. Last year’s collection of knitwear is all 50% off. Being high fashion, last year’s style here is this year’s style downtown. If you compare their outlet price to that of a similar item downtown, chances are you’ll pay 10% more here but get something that has quality you can see. For example, I’d spotted a wide cut, thin wool cardigan at Zara for 99 euros and thought that was a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I like that store, but I go there when I don’t want to spend a lot but need something quick and cute. I found and bought a similar really wide cardigan at BP Studio in very soft, thin merino wool. The tag price was 107 euros.
On a splurge this week I walked out of the outlet with my grey sweater, two lovely cotton tops with boat necks and extra long sleeves (55 each), a huge pure cashmere tube scarf that can be worn an infinite number of ways including as a sweater (99 euro) and a thin leather belt that I’ll wear as a bracelet. At the cash register, an added bonus is that there is a Foursquare special so you can take 10% off the bill if you check in.
In the end I know that I have bought stuff that I’m going to wear almost every day this winter. And I also know that I’m supporting the very local economy, for in the building next door, 30 or so people are at work making these clothes. The threads all come from Italy and the production process is highly manual. Having seen their manufacturing process, I realize that the cost of real Made in Italy fashion is, in cases like this, the real cost of production in this country, not inflated by trends or advertising.
Grey sweater in hand, and with a black one in my closet from last year, I needed something brown to match my new boots and leggings (yeah, wide pants are out – see what to wear for the midseason if you don’t believe me). In the residential area of Le Cure there’s another producer of knitwear that I’ve frequented for years – Maglieria di Daisy. They used to have a store in Prato. In recent years they have stopped making mens’ sweaters (much to Tommaso’s dismay) and produce almost exclusively for other labels. Their t-shirt material tops and leggings are not made here any more, but some of their sweaters are still made right next door, here in Florence. I found a nice long brown sweater in poly/wool/alpaca blend for 60 euros, and once again am happy to have supported a local business.
If you’re looking for a purse, Florentine leather producer Nannini is just steps away with another outlet to satisfy your craving for new things!